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.bit non-governmental domain name registrar, for the post-SOPA era (dot-bit.org)
254 points by krig on Nov 17, 2011 | hide | past | web | favorite | 63 comments

Learn from history. Repeat after me: nobody will ever use an alternate root.

The idea is much, much older than your project. Consider ipv6, and everyone is TRYING to adopt that.

Repeat after me: nobody will use an alternate root.

PS: Yes, I know what namecoin is, and the idea is stupid. It may not be an alternate traditional dns root, but the point is exactly the same.

I think the key lesson from history is that there are a number of factors that have to align for a paradigm shift to take place, but that from time to time they do happen.

There are tons of examples from history of things that people thought would never change or technologies that were thought to be dead in the water that ended up completely displacing previous alternatives. Pretty much every technological communication technology falls into that category.

Adoption will be incredibly slow or won't happen at all up until a certain point, where the tail of exponential growth kicks in and suddenly, it's everywhere. Look at mobile phones: it took years after the introduction of mobile phones for them to become ubiquitous. I doubt anyone could have predicted that there would be more mobile phones than people in the world within ten years.

I'm not saying that namecoin will take over. I do think it is possible, depending on what happens with the regular DNS system. At the moment, the need for an alternative is just not there for most people. That may not be true forever.

Look at IPv6: from the current state of IPv6 adoption, it would be possible to throw up your hands and declare it a failure, and say that it will never happen. I think that there will come a point where the price of IPv4 addresses is high enough to push widespread adoption, and at that point, everyone will be using it at once. And afterwards, people will look back and wonder why it took so long and how things could change over night. That's just the way things work.

"mobile phones: it took years after the introduction of mobile phones"

Mobile phones (and before that "car phones") solved a problem that benefited practically everyone. It was a matter of price dropping not a matter of benefit.

There are people that care about this issue but not enough to ever hit a tipping point.

How many people out there care enough to run a daemon on their home computers to participate in a decentralized file replication system? That's a nice theoretical thing for nerds, but nobody will ever do it, right?

P2P exploded once people realized that they could participate in it to get content that they want. What makes you think this would be any different?

If a decentralized DNS plugin is necessary to easily access pirated content, then such a plugin will become as widespread as P2P clients, i.e. pretty widespread.

That's enough of a tipping point: everyone who wants to access stuff which makes a government angry knows to install the "uncensored Internet plugin", and the censorship measure becomes pointless.

It could be made easier if Google indexed .bit content, but even if they don't, another search engine will take up this niche, as astalavista.box.sk did more than a decade ago.

Also, they could sidestep the DNS censorship issue, by spidering the .bit sites, but indexing them by numeric IP rather than DNS names.

> spidering the .bit sites, but indexing them by numeric IP rather than DNS names.

And as soon as the site operator moves to a different VPS host, all links get broken.

If there starts to be a lot of content located at .bit domains, if all the major browsers become peers, or if the process of getting a domain becomes very easy.. if any of those things happen, I could see the situation change.

Look, I don't expect the current DNS system to suddenly collapse. Who knows what the future holds, though? It's only been 20 years since the Soviet Union fell. Perhaps in 20 years, we have a new Union oppressing people on a massive scale. Decentralised mechanisms for communication look a whole lot more interesting when your life is on the line.

People never do things, right up until they do. It's a matter of how great the need is, and it has never been greater.

Is this solution widely used in China?

The death of Kazaa was a major contribution to BitTorrent usage. If it becomes the easiest way of accessing pirated content then I could see it doing very well.

Others here have said that SOPA, or other forms of it won't go away even if the current bid to censor does not succeed. Lobbyists spend so much time and money pushing these bills down our collective throat. They do this under the impression that there are no other recourse for us, right? Explain BitTorrent. Explain BitCoin. Technologies like these may not always be successful, but they are created by people who are very passionate and intelligent. I'd argue that these visionaries are more mobilized than lobbyists, perhaps more passionate as a big cheque isn't being paid to them.

Lobbyists fight wars in self interest, hackers innovate for the people. In the end, evolution always wins.

The difference is, lobbyists fight wars for short term self interest, while hackers fight for long term interest.

The short term and long term have a tendency to conflict.

Nobody has ever had a gun to their head in the same way as the SOPA act threatens to do. Other domain shenanigans may be annoying but nobody has ever prevented people from obtaining any domain before.

One of the most important things I take away from this isn't that anyone has subverted DNS-based filtering with a popular, easy-to-use system, but rather that they could. In an argument against SOPA/ProtectIP/etc., it is very powerful not only to be able to say "DNS based filtering is easily subverted" but to be able to point to specific examples of it being subverted.

There's a lot of power, I think, to end an argument against SOPA with "...and, at the end of the day, it won't stop anyone. It won't work." Having functional, working systems only bolsters that argument, and thus helps, rather than hurts, the case against this kind of ludicrous legislation.

"nobody will ever use an alternate root"

100% in agreement with this. Take spam which is a much larger significant problem. In order to eliminate spam you'd have to get everyone to completely change the email protocol habits usage etc. There is no way to patch over it. That hasn't and isn't going to happen. Major providers who control access aren't going to go along with any alternate root. And getting people to program in individually alternative dns servers or do anything "technical" in nature won't create enough critical mass. (Majority of domain names registered even with the availability of alternate tlds and cctlds are still .com)

"And getting people to program in individually alternative dns servers or do anything "technical" in nature won't create enough critical mass"

That has happened before. When YouTube got blocked for some stupid reason in Turkey for months, millions of people used alternative dns servers to bypass the block. It's easy enough to automate, which means it's simply a matter of demand.

Can dot-bit.org domain be taken in the name of "facilitating infringement" if SOPA does pass? From what I hear, I think the answer is yes. Sure, they'll say they have no intention of doing that ... but as along as the law itself allows them to do it, and a service like that proves to be a pain in the ass, they'll do it.

The question is how they would do that, technically, since the system is distributed.

They could of course force you to give up your domain physically, by seizing your server. As a non-US citizen, my primary concern is relying on nameservers located in the US. My machines are located in Sweden. Of course, that's no guarantee that they would be safe from the FBI...

I think he's referring the the "dot-bit.org" domain, not the the "*.bit" domains. The .org is still registered normally and vulnerable to SOPA.

It could be taken down, I guess a game of whack a mole would ensue with mirrors popping up.

How is this different from the existing SOPA scenario? "Rogue" sites can be taken down with mirrors popping up. It sounds like it's replacing one problem for the same problem.

The difference is, this would be whack-a-mole only for the one bit-coin.org domain, not for all the .bit domains, unlike the current whack-a-mole game which is being played with all sites using top level domains that the US government can exert authority over.

I was talking about the dot-bit.org domain, not the .bit ones. But as others have mentioned, it wouldn't accomplish much.

Yes, I misread you, sorry about that. I don't know much about namecoin or how it works in detail, but from what I can tell it is still being designed in large part. At the moment there seems to be only a single central registrar which is an obvious weakness.

It would be interesting to know if there are plans or ideas for decentralising even the registrar role, for example assigning domains through votes across multiple nodes...

NameCoin domains are de-centralized. It's like running DNS on Bittorrent. You can take down 1 pc but all the others keep on going.

Another thought: It would be huge if Firefox and Chrome both supported .bit out of the box. I don't know how possible that is without shipping namecoin clients in the browsers, but it seems like it shouldn't be impossible to have some sort of minimal client built-in that can do DNS lookups peer-to-peer.

If namecoin started to "just work" out of the box, that would change everything in regards to how likely this is to take over from the centralised DNS system.

Considering that both Google and Mozilla are so against SOPA, I don't see this as being completely impossible. Then again, I don't see why governments couldn't make it illegal to be a namecoin peer either, if they are already causing enough issues to warrant the system to begin with.

> It would be huge if Firefox and Chrome both supported .bit out of the box.

Yes. But don't underestimate the power of add-ons/extensions.

I don't get why did they have to replace DNS with some kind of JSON hack which "mostly" supports the same records. There are already a bunch of alternative DNS roots[1] with their own TLDs which work fine with the existing DNS software.

[1]: https://secure.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/wiki/Alternative_D...

This isn't a replacement of existing DNS with some arbitrary JSON protocol, this is a P2P DNS called Namecoin which happens to use JSON. Arguably, the flexibility offered by JSON can allow for sophisticated technologies to emerge which can take advantage of this naming system.

It's clear from the very article of this submission that this is the case. For instance, the I2P fields are combined in a structure that best represents the resource on the I2P network. A different structure is necessary to represent a Tor or freenet resource identifier.

If Internet naming is going to be fragmented, I'd rather it not be wasted on Alternative DNS roots, which fall privy to the same fundamental problems as our current domain name system. A Namecoin system cannot be so easily censored.

which happens to use JSON

But that's my point: why? I'm not saying they should implement a DNS root, I'm saying I don't see the benefit in using a new format, when:

1. The DNS packet format is compatible with existing resolvers, which eases the transition (for example, someone could use the new system without installing anything, by trusting a Namecoin resolving server) 2. It uses less space for the common use case - JSON is smaller than e.g. XML, but it's still hardly a small format. 3. It's extensible for other use cases (Tor, I2P) without bloating the common - see EDNS

Frankly, I think they're reinventing the wheel, poorly, by designing their own format.

While it would be much more convenient for everybody if they implemented some extension of the current protocol/formatting, there are some issues with accomplishing that.

Names registered with namecoin have to depend on some blobs which can be updated by the name owner. The blobs need a format of some kind, and since they're already using a different protocol than DNS to achieve this P2P system, they might as well use JSON.

Also, as I stated in my comment, the structure of JSON fits better for this type of system than DNS's formatting. DNS requires redundancy to describe round-robin, and it's not easy (or elegant) to express complex structures in DNS, compared to JSON.

One example of this in practice is the I2P field I mentioned before.

for example, someone could use the new system without installing anything, by trusting a Namecoin resolving server

It is already possible - http://dot-bit.org/HowToBrowseBitDomains#Replace_your_DNS_se... . There are two traditional DNS servers that resolve .bit addresses.

'cos namecoin system is more then just dns. right now there are several additions in draft specification, like messagin, personal space and something else. json format allows developer to evolve project.

I published open source Faucet code recently and also launched test namecoin faucet at http://faucet.yepcorp.com

Feel free to request your 3 namecoins to test things out. This should be enough for actually registering 1-2 domains at current prices.

Read here more about registering .bit domain yourself with namecoins (not buying 1 year registration with bitcoins!!!)


I'd love to register a .bit domain just as an experiment/for fun, but I'm a bit wary of the methods for obtaining bitcoins that I've found.. anyone have a good tip for an exchange, or experience with obtaining bitcoins/registering a .bit domain through any other means.. Or, any other related information to share?

I also can't quite figure out if it's worth my time to set one of my computers at mining bitcoins, how long should I expect it to take me to mine enough to register a domain?

The short answer is that you SHOULDN'T set up a mining rig to mine bitcoins, if all you want to do is USE bitcoins.

Simply buy or trade for them. The easiest way to do that, in my opinion (from a US-centric perspective) is to set up a Dwolla account, transfer a bit of money from your bank to Dwolla. Then transfer that money from Dwolla to an exchange (Mtgox and TradeHill are two examples), and then buy bitcoins at market rate.

Then you can use them to buy goods and services (including namecoin names). Bitcoins are the "currency". Namecoins are sort-of related (using the same underlying technology), but are a separate product.

Thank you, Dwolla looks exactly like what I'm looking for.

Namecoin is based on Bitcoin, but it uses a different block chain. Essentially, they are two different "commodities". You have to obtain namecoins in order to purchase .bit names.

However, you can purchase namecoins with bitcoins using bitcoin-namecoin exchanges like this one: https://exchange.bitparking.com/main

Also, to answer your question, mining is really ineffective for home users. I mean, if you have energy to waste on it, that's fine, but you'll find it's more economical to simply buy the bitcoins through bitcoin exchanges (Tradehill, MtGox) than it is to mine them.

Get some namecoins at http://faucet.yepcorp.com and then read here how to manually register .bit domain - http://dot-bit.org/HowToRegisterAndConfigureBitDomains

You can buy Bitcons from an exchange http://mtgox.com is the most popular.

The Internet will see SOPA as damage and attempt to route around it. Expect a lot more articles & technologies like this to suddenly get attention if that thing passes.

What we really need is a new protocol based on Kademelia or something, a decentralized DNS.

Engineering such a thing to scale would be tough, but getting adoption might be easier than we think. It could be offered via click-to-install browser extensions and click-to-install free apps in app stores.

Um, a decentralized DNS already exists, and it's called namecoin. Click on the story link again and explore.

Google and other search engines could do a lot to undermine the current DNS as well, if they supported indexing other nets.

The second they do that, they'll only be available on the other nets.

Can you elaborate? I don't follow how that might come about.

Easy. The reason for the other nets is because the governmental ones want to censor out parts. So if a domain on the govt net starts bypassing censorship by pointing at things on the other nets, the govt will consider that domain also an infringing domain and censor it too.

Of course, we're talking about Google. The US government wouldn't lightly block google.com. But it would start some sort of battle.

Namecoin is already established, and although there could be better P2P naming systems, I'm happy they're trying to snag .bit. I had a similar thought just earlier this week; Namecoin could work seamlessly alongside our current naming system as long as .bit is endorced for that use.

I don't think I'm quite sure what this is trying to do - can anyone explain? It seems they want to make a distributed DNS system based on the model of BitCoin - P2P keys that identify the nameservers for certain domains? This would avoid the regulation of SOPA.

But there's no way to be certain because I can't make heads or tails of that spec page LoL.

It's an iteration of an RFC for Namecoin: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=2546815

I think the point of the story is not so much the details of the novel content in this RFC - I find it hard to take seriously an RFC with passages such as "I would suggest that Verisign offer [us the .bit and .nmc tlds] as a gesture of good faith so that we can profit all profit from strengthening the original intent of DNS and the potentially criminal monopoloy handed to them by the US Government" - but as pointing out that there is movement in Namecoin and asserting that Namecoin is relevant to the whole SOPA deal.

Next line: "I mean, I don't see any other solution to begin the fair transition into opening name services that keeps them in line with their stated goals." Perhaps a dose of pragmatism would be good at this point.

Couldn't this whole project be undermined by ICANN opening up .bit for registration with the current dns system?

ICANN's current stated policy is to not cause technical problems. For example, they will never open up .local. But if people start succeeding in popularizing whatever TLDs they want, maybe ICANN would change that policy just to screw with them.

Still .bit isn't going to work today without special configuration, so it's not at all clear that publishing it from the root servers would break anyone that was already successfully using it.

Presumably, anyone friendly to the alternative DNS effort (ie. anyone running a .bit-capable DNS) would serve the p2p .bit domains over the ICANN domain that case. Although it would certainly be interesting.

I written a bit about what namecoin means for the future.


what is the point of the .bit ? why would somebody want to use it ?

I believe this proposal started long before E-PARASITE, SOPA and similar (pending) legislation, but it has become relevant given the current SOPA situation. dot-bit (namecoins) has the potential of circumventing the DNS-censorship that SOPA might enable.

Also, its sister technology, bitcoin, has the potential of circumventing the payment-processor (ex. MasterCard) type of censorship. (See how wikileaks is being shutdown/censored)

For this to succeed, you need to reserve a lot of the legitimate .com addresses and have them mirror their .com counterparts. If you don't mimic .com as closely as possible for all entities that matter (real people and real organizations) then .bit is dead in the water.

The name of the website (dot bit) suggests the domain names will be using the Top Level Domain '.bit'. Is it the case?

Can someone give an example of a domain that would be provided by this registrar? Domain.bit would be the typical example...?

correct. for example, i have http://room.bit/ as a mirror to my project http://betco.in/

Although to use these domains you need to do some leg work right now, 'cos obviously no root domains support this TLD.

Easiest for me was to switch to one DNS server from this list http://dot-bit.org/HowToBrowseBitDomains#Use_a_DNS_server_th...

I really like this idea. I think it really needs to be explained better, it is very confusing how it is explained, pages that should explain are also full of details that might not help clarify things.

bit non-governmental domain name registrar, for the post-SOPA era...@readers:disqus you want to make $85 hourly and $7000 per month like me just working on laptop for few hours! Would you like to be your own boss!Opportunities like this don't come by often. Don't let this one pass you by! CashHuge. com

Smart! Thumbs up!

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